Amateurs of Japanese trains will be satisfied at the SCMaglev and Railway Park, a museum dedicated to Japanese trains. The museum features historical and modern locomotives including a good selection of Shinkansen express trains and the new Maglev currently being developed. An impressive train diorama and train simulators are also popular attractions. Lucky winners of a lottery can test their driving skills in the Shinkansen simulator.
The Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum, located nearby Zenko-ji temple, stages art exhibit from artists of Nagano prefecture. An annex of the museum, the Higashiyama Kaii Gallery, features artworks from Higashiyama Kaii depicting the beautiful scenery of Nagano prefecture (some examples here). Taking photos of the artwork is prohibited, but there was no issues with taking photos of the museum’s modern architecture.
Gassho Mura (Village) is a touristic attraction in Gero which features traditional Japanese farmhouses that were moved to Gero and preserved as a museum, recreating a typical mountain village of the old days. The Gassho houses feature a steep triangular roof made of dried vegetation. In addition to the traditional Japanese farmhouse, the village also features beautiful gardens.
The Ogawaya onsen hotel is conveniently located in the famous hot spring town of Gero. Only a few minutes walk from the train station, the hotel features spacious bedrooms and both indoor and outdoor baths with a great view of Hida river. The room we were given was especially large and very well maintained. As with all Japanese ryokans, comfortable futons were laid on the tatami mats for us during dinner. A seating area in front of the window offered an especially great nighttime view of Gero.
Gero, located in Gifu prefecture, is one of the famous hot spring towns of Japan. Its proximity to Takayama allows to practically combine the two destinations in an overnight trip from Nagoya. Many hotels in Gero offer the typical Japanese onsen experience: comfortable hotel rooms and relaxing japanese hot bath.
Takayama Jinya is a former government building that was under direct governance of Edo (previous name of Tokyo). The building is now a museum open to visitors. Most of the rooms are tatami rooms that once served as offices and meeting rooms but there is also a peculiar room that was used by the lord to interrogate/torture suspected criminals.
It is somewhat strange to find a museum dedicated to Nikko in the middle of Gifu prefecture but the Sakurayama Nikkokan is definitely worth the visit. The Sakurayama Nikkokan features small-scale (1/10 scale) replicas of the Nikko-Toshogu shrine and other historical sites of Nikko. It took the 33 carpenters a total of 15 years to complete. The replicas are very detailed and give the visitors a different and interesting point of view compared to visiting the sites in person.